Thursday, 5 February 2015

Why do we do this- Part2

Why do I do this ?

I've been thinking about why I do this off and on for some years. Leaving aside the business side for a while why when I do this for a living  do I also enjoy the hobby.
To be able to make and display stuff like this is one of the main reasons I do this.

 Thinking about it  I sell toy/model soldiers to chaps who are intrested in toy/model soldiers. Most- but by no means all of thse are Wargamers and of those Wargamers only a minority are  PRIMARLY
 "GAMES  FIRST" types. Now this  attude rises sharply if the customers is a fantasy or pulp player  or indeed a skirmish gamer in most genres. There is a lot of stuff out there in "Miniatures Gaming" that while its called Wargaming is avovedly unmilitary. Such "periods" as"Old West"(to distinguish from Plains Wars) Gangsters, Pulp Fiction, many areas of Fantasy and Sci FI (though there are "military" aspects to both)- the seemingly endless number of sci-fi ish skirmish games  with "factions"  which seem to be based upon crime and fat blkes with ridiculous weapons ... .. All of thse are decidedly unmilitary. Indeed the rise of "Non -war wargaming"  has  been signifcant over the lat 20 years or so and no eyebrows were raised about its acceptance into our pantheon. Now barring past flirtations with Western Gunfights(54mm) and my occaisional interest in sci-fi(which is still pretty military)  I don't care for these" non-war wargames"simply biaecause I don't see the point other than as occaisional light relief. They are hardly "periods"  in the normal sense of having more to them than a simple repetitive game. For instance a Western Gunfight is  gunfight is a gunfight." English Civil War"   if entered into fully gives you everything from a glorified pub brawl to a full scale engagment  with all sorts of stuff in between from skirmishes to sieges. The same can be said for any huistorical period and -if done properly Fantasy and Sci-fi too  but the new generation of "boutique games"- small limited in scope and fiendishly expensive often as not simply do not cut the mustard and are not  rwally wargame in any meaningful sense.
 So that is why I DON'T do something now as to why I do.
You have to start with Military History- there is no getting around that it has to be the starting point. Of itself it is endliessly facinating and I'd still read and study it  even if there were no soldiers to play with. War is a very human activity and brings out the best and the worst in us - often at the same time.
 Henry's editorial in the most recent MW highlighted this  and opined that our harmless. hobby  simulates warfare with out hate. This is a dammend good way to put it. I'd add that it should at least some of the time make us think about warfare and itts effects upon us. Not all of are games should be lightweight fluff despite the prevailing fashion.
 However back to the Plot.
Next are the models- Honestly not sure which came first here but it was probably toy soldiers when I was about 7 or so . As I got older I wanted to know why they looked the way they did and who they really were - so THATS how the history started.
- All this while I was still at primary school .
 The wargaming came a bit later at Grammar school .
 For me its mostly about the search for knowledge rather than mere dice rolling. Once you have that knowledge you can attempt to translate what happened onto the wargames table in  a format which is
 a/. pleasing to the eye- that is the point of using models.
b/. Bear some relation - if only in the look of the thing - to a battle from the period it purports to depict.  so anything with DB in the title is out ... biggest load of gamesey  twaddle ever written  A game for Dice nerds .. Fie upon it !  Period specific rules are in.  Or at least rules that work  for a specific periodand hopefully give you a twinge of that  will o' the wisp idea- period feel  .
 c/. Again depending upon period, games can be either complex or simple or anywhere in between. "Game" is never the be all and end all but that doesn't always mean game is automatically at the bottom of the pile. but it does tend to be the least of my worries.
 This is probably becasue I prefer Umpire controlled games. Let the Umpire deal with the mere mechanics mostly I don't care which dice I roll when since I've already made the tactical or strategic decision. Also it never about mere victory- did all that in the 70s and 80s . I want something more now than simply scoring points off my mates.. Victory is nice but if its the be all and end all of your wargaming then you need to get out more .
 In the same way some people get turned off by historical information Blokes droning on about games does my head in .
"well I had to thow a 1-3 on a 19 sided dice- so I got my lucky 19 sider- the purple  one with the skulls .. drone drone drone .... ZZZZZZZZZZZ"-Get the picture !
 Its one of the reasons I don't play Fantasy- even if I like the artistry of the miniatures- and there are some superb Fantasy minis out there . I suspect that its simply that Fantasy dudes don't  seem to do jokes- at least not in my experience !  Mind you if I ever got the urge to  do fictional worlds  I'd do Fantasy perhaps with as many really really bad jokes as I could cram in .... Orcs as Geordies perhaps .... Yorkshire Dwarfs ....  Elves as Public school boys  with no chins ...  so they can look down on you ...  Trouble is after I'd done that once or twice it would pall and become repetitive in a way that real history simply doesn't- there is always more of it to learn.and therefore experiment with.


  1. Excellent post Andy.
    Found myself nodding as I read it, especially the bit about non-war wargames! The proliferation of un-military stuff in magazines and at shows is certainly noticeable.
    We'll just have to "stick to our guns" (literally!)

  2. Don't often agree with everything you say Andy, but I did this time - well done. The concept of "read history then try to turn it into a game that is satisfying and fun" is what turns me on. If it looks good that's a huge bonus.

  3. I once made an Orc Bloodbowl team (this about 25 years ago). My wife came up with the name: Orcshire Rippers. Tasteless, yet somehow.... compelling.

    You could do semi-military with something set in the pre-Stuart border between England and Scotland. The figure scale could be 1 to 1, but still have largish forces in numbers of figures... Then, raid, counter-raid, feud and blackmail - the whole she-bang.

  4. I find myself agreeing with the bulk of what you've written (though not all).

    History is the key (and not just for playing with toy soldiers!)



  5. Thanks for your comments chaops. As ever I don't expect- or even want agreement . The objective- as far as there is one is to make people think about what we do ..

    Ion I live a bare hour or less from the Borders and the History of "that martial kind of men" is pretty fascinating and a lot more military than some would have us believe. Lets face it when some of the larger riding surnames can put upwards of 1000 men or more into the sadddle at need in a few hours...

    There is room for the non- military stuff but it sometimes seems that we are being swamped in a tide of low rent- but high price crap - Instant gratification for the hard of thinking.

  6. I'm more or less in the same boat as yourself.
    There has been a big cross-over between what I would call wargames and games with miniatures, or even the difference between board and table-top games.
    The current trend which you call 'boutique games" and I would call " a game in a box" hasn't really hurt the "wargame" market and it may even have helped with the greater choice of figures in every scale and period imaginable.
    What I do despair about though is that game systems like "Saga" and others have promoted the need to not research anything, but maybe it will lead to players actually wanting battles that resemble something which they allude to.

    1. Joe- agreed- Boutique games is not my term but Ken Natts - who you may know . As you say I don't think such games hurt too much and may even help but the wish for instant gratifcation without any brainwork is the burden of our time - not just in our hobby.